15 Dec, 2016
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1) Which South-American country ordered demonetization of its largest denomination currency note on 11 December 2016 in an effort to target the alleged cash hoarding and huge inflation in the country? – Venezuela
Explanation: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on 11 December 2016 signed an emergency decree ordering the country’s largest banknote, the 100 bolivar bill, taken out of circulation. The government is of the view that this will thwart the cash hoarders in Colombia.
– It is worth mentioning that Venezuela is the midst of an economic crisis and crippled with the world’s highest inflation. The country is preparing to issue new banknotes and coins in values up to 200 times the highest denomination currently available. The 100 bolivar bill is worth fewer than three cents of a dollar at current market rates. One bill can barely cover the cost of a piece of candy.
– The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast the inflation rate will hit 475% by the end of this year. Falling prices for Venezuela’s crucial oil exports have caused a shortage of dollars in the country, driving up prices of imports of food, medicine and other crucial goods.
2) What is the main recommendation of the Watal Committee on Digital Payments which submitted its report to the Union Government during December 2016? – An independent payments regulator within the framework of the RBI should be established
Explanation: The Union Government in August 2016 had constituted a committee to suggest ways to encourage India’s movement towards a cashless economy. This committee was headed by former finance secretary Ratan Watal. The committee came out with its recommendations during December 2016.
– The committee has recommended that payments regulations should be independent of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) but should come under its framework. It has thus has mooted the creation of a Payments Regulatory Board (PRB) within the central bank- an independent decision making body having some members from outside RBI.
– The panel has also suggested strengthening the payment and settlements Act to include clauses for consumer protection. These include ensuring that the customer is not liable for losses arising from unauthorized transactions, as well as an option to approach the regulator for grievances. It has also sought to address issues on data protection and security.
– The report has recommended opening up of the payment systems like the real-time gross settlement system (RTGS) even to non-bank payment service providers.
3) What is India’s position in the list of the world’s largest defence spending countries, as disclosed in IHS Jane’s latest annual Defense Budgets report? – Fourth
Explanation: IHS Jane’s latest annual Defense Budgets report released during December 2016, India has overtaken Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the fourth-largest spender in the world. During 2016 India spent $50.67 billion on defence sector, as against $46.6 billion spent during 2015. If the pound continues to weaken, India will spend more on defense than the U.K. by 2018.
– At $622 billion in 2016, the U.S. is still the world leader in defense spending, with its budget accounting for about 40% of the global total. China is at second place with spending worth $191.75 billion. It is followed by the United Kingdom, which spent $53.81 billion on defence spending during 2016. India is now at fourth place and is followed closely by Saudi Arabia (48.68 billion) and Russia ($48.44 billion).
– On the other hand global defence expenditures rose to $1.57 trillion during 2016 from $1.55 trillion in 2015, primarily due to the fact that Asian nations are ramping up defence expenses on growing nervousness around the South China Sea.
4) During December 2016 the Syrian government troops recaptured major parts of which strategic city from the rebels that fell out into rebel hands in 2012 in one of the early setbacks to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad? – Aleppo
Explanation: Aleppo is the largest city of Syria. It has been the center of military confrontation between Syrian armed forces under President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian opposition (including Free Syrian Army and Sunni fighters). The battle of Aleppo began on 19 July 2012 as opposition forces captured major parts of the city to give a big blow to government forces.
– By 13 December 2016 the government forces were able to capture major eastern parts of the city and within a few weeks are expected to take control of complete city. Syrian government offensive was supported by Russia, who carried airstrikes over the rebels.
– Talks between rebels and the Russian military led to the ceasefire deal. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on 13 December 2016 to address the situation. The battle for Aleppo has been a humanitarian disaster. The rebels accuse the regime of indiscriminate bombing and killing civilians, while the government says it had no option but to move in as the city was controlled by “terrorists”.
5) Which cricket stadium in India is poised to replace Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) as the world’s biggest cricket stadium in terms of seating capacity, as reported in the media during December 2016? – Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium (Ahmedabad)
Explanation: The Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad will replace Australia’s Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to become world’s biggest cricket stadium in terms of seating capacity. This stadium will take that record after the new renovated venue opens up in two year time. L&T will undertake the expansion project.
– Motera’s seating capacity will go up from present 54,000 to seat about 1,10,000 that will put MCG’s 100,024 in the shade.
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